Why 2019 will be a turning point for Haifa Port

The port, known as the Israeli cruise gateway, is forecasting a record year, with over 240,000 international and Israeli passengers expected to pass through the terminal. Zohar Rom tells us more

Why 2019 will be a turning point for Haifa Port
Israel’s Haifa Port is forecasting record numbers in 2019, with over 240,000 passengers expected to pass through the terminal

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

During 2018, Haifa Port welcomed around 120,000 passengers. In 2019, it is expecting double this figure. This dramatic growth is on par with the overall tourism boom in Israel due in large part to daily flights from many destinations in Europe, North America and Asia.

That said, according to Zohar Rom, Haifa Port spokesman and cruise manager, the number of tourists arriving by sea is still falling far short of the port’s potential. “Our hope is that 2019 will only be the starting point,” he says. “Haifa Port and Israel have so much to offer, and I look forward to seeing this upward trend continue. We are delighted to see all the major shipping lines calling in Haifa this year in bigger numbers, and of course we are happy to welcome back all the returning lines that we missed very much in last few years. We also look forward to welcoming some making their first calls and we are confident that even more will include Haifa in 2020.” 

Among the brands returning to Israel and Haifa during the 2019-2020 season are Royal Caribbean International,Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard and P&O Cruises.

Crown Iris, Mano Shipping’s newest ship, will homeport in Haifa for 60 calls annually, beginning in April. The new ship has a capacity of up to 2,000 passengers compared to Golden Iris, which had a capacity of 800. Embarkation of the ship’s 2,000 passengers is possible as a result of significant renovations in the terminal which has doubled its facilities and capacity. 

Rom believes that these renovations will also help boost passenger numbers. “It’s no secret that Israelis love to cruise all over the world, and in 2019 we will see a massive increase in the number of Israelis sailing from Haifa Port.  We are the only turnaround port in Israel and having a terminal that can efficiently handle turnaround operations for 2,000 passengers presents us with a huge opportunity. Israel is an untapped market for the cruise industry, and this is a big step forward for us.”

Rom believes that, with everything Israel has to offer, passengers are spoilt for choice when it comes to excursions. “Who would come to Israel and miss out on the chance to visit Jerusalem and Bethlehem, or Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee? The Haifa Port terminal also provides convenient access to the city of Haifa. 

“Like the entire Israeli tourism industry, we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re always on the lookout for new attractions. Israel is an ideal vacation destination, with many breathtaking landscapes and historic sites. The combination of Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and hopefully Egypt in the near future, creates a truly spectacular itinerary,” he concludes.

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